Dedicated to Sharing the Heritage of Redwood Empire Railroading
If you look in the SMART Managers Report of May 2019, page 17. Under the Title of Maintenance Of Way. The manager makes mention of two large non-revenue properties. One is in Healdsburg and the other is right here in Corte Madera.
Richard- I did not state my case well. In your original message you said, in this order:
- As our NCRA stated last week, their right of way running from Eureka to Lombard is classified as a "local railroad" line.
- The NWP freight portion of the RoW is a privately held company.
- SMART on the other hand is publicly financed by the tax payer of Sonoma and Marin County.
As near as I can tell, SMART is a special district composed of Sonoma and Marin Counties. I note the government board includes no representation from NCRA, nor can I find any evidence that NCRA has any ownership interest in SMART. My understanding of the history, both from having a front row seat to part of it and then an interested observer from afar, is as follows:
1. NCRA when created around 1989 was owned and managed by Humboldt, Trinity, and Mendocino Counties. In 1992 they purchased the NWP north of Milepost MP 142.5, which is a couple miles north of Willits. NCRA sets up North Coast Railroad to provide the freight operations.
2. Sonoma County joined the NCRA ownership group in 1996, at which time NCRA purchased the line from Milepost 142.5 south to Milepost 68.22 in Healdsburg.
3. At the same time as the transactions outlined in #2, the newly created Northwestern Pacific Railroad Authority- owned by NCRA, Marin County, and the Golden Gate Bridge District- purchases the line from Milepost 68.22 at Healdsburg south and east through Schellville to Lombard, interchange point with California Northern. NCRA receives a permanent freight easement over the NWPRA line as part of this sale. North Coast Railroad changes its name to Northwestern Pacific and commences operations over the entire length of the line.
4. NWP service north of Willits ends due to storm damage in the first days of 1998, then the FRA issues its emergency order closing the rest of the railroad right around Thanksgiving 1998. By that point John Darling's Northwestern Pacific Railway Company LLC (NWPY) had some involvement as NCRA attempted to develop a public-private partnership. NCRA and NWPY worked together for a few years to get service restored on part of the southern end of the line in 2001, but operations only lasted a couple months before relationships broke down and NCRA removed NWPY from the property.
5. Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit is created about 2002, and in 2004 it acquires the assets of the Northwestern Pacific Railroad Authority, which is disbanded after the transaction. As I said above, I can't find anything supporting that NCRA has any ownership interest in SMART, as it would have lost those when SMART replaced NWPRA. That being said, NCRA very much did retain the permanent freight easement over SMART's trackage, and that's what gives them a seat at the SMART table today.
6. NCRA selects the current Northwestern Pacific to be its new freight operator around 2006.
To sum up...Humboldt, Trinity, Mendocino, and Sonoma counties own NCRA. Sonoma and Marin counties own SMART, subject to NCRA's freight easement. SMART operates its own passenger trains on the line, while the privately owned NWP offers the freight service over NCRA's freight easement. The entire assembly of all of these companies, not including NWP's investments in equipment, has been and continues to be financed by some combination of Federal, state, and local tax dollars. NCRA by far has the least amount of direct public support, and finances itself largely on what revenues it can generate, but it is still very reliant on disaster relief funds from the Federal government.
On a lighter note, I drove over the Shilo crossing the other day and multiple pickups and people in vests walking both sides of the crossing. Is there a start date for the Windsor extension?
The short answer is whenever the Larkspur extension is completed. No contracts for building the Windsor extension have been put up for bid. The hope by the board is that the same crews will build it.